The Latin phrase Gradus ad Parnassum, meaning “Steps to Parnassus”, has often been used to refer to various books of instruction in literature, music, or the arts in general.
In Greek Mythology, Mount Parnassus was the home of the Muses – the nine goddesses of the arts. Clementi’s Gradus comprises 100 pieces published in three volumes (1817, 1819, and 1826).
In its original form, it includes a great variety of pieces, intended to tap all of a player’s musical resources – miniature sonatas, fugues, fantasias etc. In the late 1850s, Liszt’s pupil Carl Tausig prepared and eventually published an new edition of the work, mostly including the purely technical exercises. These were parodied by Debussy in “Doktor Gradus ad Parnassum” from Children’s Corner.